Iljo Keisse pulled off an incredible solo victory at the 118km Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey Stage 7 on Saturday, attacking a seven rider break with 5km to go, getting a 14" gap on his former break mates, crashing within the final kilometer, fixing a dropped chain, and holding off a surging peloton in the final 50 meters.
"I'm over the moon about this victory" Keisse said. "Here in Turkey my condition is improving day by day. Every day I was a little bit better. Also yesterday I tried to get in the breakaway without luck. Today I chose the right move. The guys in the break were really motivated. In the final I felt strong. I knew that If I kept going on it was possible to arrive until the finish.At 5 to go I went solo. I gave everything. I knew from the road book that the last corner was dangerous. I took it easy but my front wheel slipped away."
The recovery by Keisse was particularly impressive, demonstrating poise under pressure.
"My first thought was 'What to do now?', but I tried to stay calm," Keisse said. "I looked behind me and I saw the peloton who was arriving. I mantained calm, put on my chain and then I did the ride of my life. As a track rider you know how hard can be to catch somebody in a kilometer. I knew it was possible and I did it! It was a great feeling after the finish! If you look at the podium it seems that I won a bunch sprint with Kittel and Petacchi behind me. It's funny."
This is the 31st victory for Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team.
"I'm happy for myself and for the team who believed in me always, even in the hard times," Keisse said. "I didn't ride too much in the last years on the road but this year I understood immediately that I could do well, that I had a good level of ability. For sure, I have to improve a lot, for example on the climbs, but now I want also to celebrate this victory with my teammates."
The break attacked just several kilometers into the race, with more than three minutes on the peloton at one point. Keisse increased the tempo within the break in the final 20 kilometers as they clung to slightly more than a one minute gap, and several teams began to chase hard at the front of the field. Keisse continued to keep the pace high, and with just a few kilometers remaining, he decided to try and win solo.
"I want to devote this victory to my girlfriend and my child," Keisse said. "This morning she called me saying that our child was sick. I said 'ok I go in the breakaway so you have something to watch during the afternoon at the television.' It was nice to think about them in the final kilometers. Here the team did a good race. We tried to attack basically everyday and Marco Bandiera won the mountain classification. Tomorrow we will try to honour again this competition."